Tag Archives: Venerable Bede

Bede — May 26

The Venerable Bede writing. Detail from a 12th century codex

Bible connection

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. — Hebrews 11:13

All about the Venerable Bede (c. 673-735)

“The Venerable Bede” died on this day in 735. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholars. When he was seven, Bede was sent to Benedict Biscop at the monastery of St. Peter at Wearmouth, Northumbria, for his education; when he was nine he moved a short distance to the sister house in Jarrow, where he would live out the rest of his days. Bede became a deacon at age 19 and priest at 30.

Page from History

Eventually, Bede was the first native of the British Isles to be named by the Pope as Doctor of the Church (in 1899). His most famous work, which is a key source for understanding early British history and the arrival of Christianity, is Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum or The Ecclesiastical History of the English People which was completed in 731 AD. It is the first work of history in which the AD system of dating is used.

Much of Bede’s observations and writings were focused on the natural world. His scholarship is notably advanced because of his ability to weave together fragments into coherent works with very limited resources.

Here is a bit from his most famous work:

“The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.”

Try on this quote:

“Better a stupid and unlettered brother who, working the good things he knows, merits life in Heaven than one who though being distinguished for his learning in the Scriptures, or even holding the place of a doctor, lacks the bread of love.”

This is also a good image:

“Jesus opened the tavern of heaven and poured out the wine of the Holy Ghost.”

Bede’s work was so famous and respected that it earned him an honorific addition to his name. The title Venerabilis [Venerable] was associated with the name of Bede within two generations after his death. There is no proof for the legend that an unskilled monk composing an epitaph on Bede was at a loss to complete the line: Hac sunt in fossa Bedae . . . . ossa (in this grave are Bede…bones) and then found the next morning that angels had filled the gap with the word venerabilis [venerable]. The title is used by Alcuin (a Northumbrian teacher who became the lead scholar in Charlemagne’s court), Amalarius of Metz and Paul the Deacon within years of his death. The important Council of Aachen in 835 describes him as venerabilis [venerable] et modernis temporibus doctor admirabilis Beda [venerable and admirable doctor of our time, Bede].


Want to read Bede’s groundbreaking book? [link]

More from English people who love him? [link] 

Additions from Orthodox Wiki: [link]

This Channel 4 story takes less than 2 minutes:

What do we do with this?

Bede was a writer and researcher. He was a preserver of good things and true things. If you are a writer, too, take your art seriously and tell the truth. Maybe you should write a little history of your church, your team, or of a person you admire. Or write your spiritual autobiography! Bede’s work has made a difference for 1300 years!